I always look forward to running on snow. Up and down the hills, on the road through the farm, across the fields and fields and fields for a long stretch, I look forward to the few kilometers (if even that) when we’ll run on snow.
We usually don’t because not everybody’s feet are as big and flat and boat-like as mine, and not all ancles are as sturdy and stubborn as the ones at the bottom of my legs. I wonder if this is what I’m built for, if this is my purpose, if I ever had one.
Running on snow = struggle. The lone streetlight at the other end telling us we’re more than halfway and very nearly there. Disco-effect when lights from cars and your headlight and the light from the road meet on the snow, dizzying.
I don’t run very far and I don’t run very often and I certainly don’t run very fast. I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t dread tying my shoelaces and heading out, but I probably still enjoy the part that comes after more than the actual running. Except, of course, when I run on snow.
So let me tell you what’s so good about it, or how I’ve somehow condensed my feeling of intense bliss down to something I can pretend to explain in a logical manner.
First of all, running in winter is something else. Everything is something else in the winter-time, we all know that, but running is something that’s remarkable. More clothes on don’t feel like a hinder but rather like a protection and a little bit as if you’re not doing it yourself. I am more secure with layers upon layers of wool and reflexive material and gloves and hats and vests, and I am less myself (the same goes for driving a car in the winter-time: that illusion of safety from dressing and dressing and dressing yourself with so much fabric, nothing can hurt you, no impact).
Second, the important thing when running on snow is just enduring. There is no technique apart from not-falling and there is no speed except forward and there is no sense of achievement because you are simply running, not winning or losing anything as is the case so often in life. Because of the slight obstacles in the path and in keeping your balance and not falling you (or rather, I) can’t concentrate on anything else. My worries, bills, thoughts of the future. It all disappears.
This is cheesy, I know. Who hasn’t written about running being an ecstatic and meditative endeavor? Who doesn’t make grand, philosophical statements about running as life in its purest forms and how we are all running away from something all the time and issues with your father and so on, you see where I’m going with this.
So, that’s not what I’m trying to do here. I’m simply saying this: running on snow is so, so nice because I want to go forward and I need to go forward. There is no thought of stopping.
When I run on snow a thin veil appears to me. It is the fine, fine veil that separates fatigue and exhaustion from elation and ecstasy. In a way it's a voice telling me I've finally arrived, and that with every step I'm arriving.